Thoughts on the texts by the Rev. Linda Harrison
Epiphany 4; Feb 3, 2019 1
Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30
Love. Paul’s treatise on love in 1 Corinthians 13 is a reminder that our spiritual gifts, bestowed by God, are for the use of the common good, and they are meaningless unless enacted in love. Then in the gospel portion, Jesus tells the people that although they have just heard the words of God’s promised liberation and healing from the prophet Isaiah (last’s week text from Luke 4.1-20), Israel may not be the first to see those promises fulfilled – which on the surface, doesn’t sound very loving.
Jesus is telling his hometown folks, and by extension us, that God’s love is surprising and freely given. God shows no partiality. The love ethic of Jesus knows no national, religious, ethnic, or partisan boundaries. What we witness today in at home and in the world – the nationalism and tribalism and partisanship – is antithetical to God’s love and the love we are called to be and do in the world; the love Paul teaches in the letter to the Corinthians. Pointing out God’s impartiality angered the people to the point of murderous rage. They wanted to be first and only in God’s eyes. How dare Jesus claim that God loves the most despised of the despised – gentiles from Sidon?! Syrian oppressors and torturers?! That was too much to take from their hometown boy, a carpenter’s child!
Don’t we, also, want to be favored by God? Don’t we sometimes want God to ignore the same ones we ignore?
Jesus announces the good news of release to those who are captive, then, now, and always. Who among us do we know that is not captive? Not in need of some sort of release and healing? No one. We are all broken, captive to sin, in any number of ways. It is the human experience. All of us have hurts. All of us have disappointments and regrets. All of us fail to live up to God’s call upon our lives. None of us are perfect and yet, God loves us all. There is no us and them. There is only us. Our common condition of brokenness binds us as one beloved humanity.
And God’s love is poured out on every broken person.
Jesus proclaimed release and healing – available to all, specially reserved for none. We claim that release and healing in the name of Christ. In that healing, we are then sent to the rest of us to share our spiritual gifts in the love of Christ for the healing of all people – for the common good, for the beloved creatures of God.
For we are all one in God’s love.